Sunday, July 02, 2017

Weekend Diversion: Old Tunes, Part 2

This week finishes the trip to my past as I finish looking at the songs I scribbled down approximately thirty years ago. Last week, I looked at the front page of scribblings, and today I look at the rest (photo at left – click to enlarge).

First up is “Big Decision” by That Petrol Emotion, a Northern Ireland by way of London group with a North American lead singer. It was their first single from their 1987 album, Babble, and it hit number 42 on the UK chart, their highest-ever singles chart position. The record sleeve contained text against the use of plastic bullets against protesters in Northern Ireland. Their next single, “Genius Move” [WATCH/LISTEN] was banned by the BBC. The only song of theirs I knew was “Big Decision”, which I bought many years later, and still like.

The next song is one I don't remember: "No Stars" by Figures on a Beach, a single from the first full-length album, 1987's Standing On Ceremony. While it's true that I don't remember the song, I can see, even now, why I would have liked it 30 years ago.

The next song on the list is “Sinful” by Pete Wylie. It was his first solo single, following poor performance by his previous band, known variously as Wah! and The Mighty Wah! I don't remember this song, either, but as with the previous song, I can see why I'd have liked it. However, once I came to New Zealand I heard his earlier hit with Wah!, “The Story of the Blues (Part 1)” [WATCH/LISTEN]. I really liked that song, too. This song hit Number 3 on the UK chart, while “Sinful” hit number 13.

Finally, it's “This Is The Day” the second single from the first album by The The, 1983's Soul Mining. The single only made it to Number 71 on the UK chart, and the album peaked at 27 in the UK. Back in the 1980s, I had several friends who were really into The The, but, even now, I'm still largely unfamiliar with their work.

It's time now, at the end of this visit to three decades ago, to admit something: This list may not have been created during one night's video watching session. In fact, a good reason to think it wasn't is the fact that I used at least three pens to make my notes. I suspect, but don't know, that the first side was written down the same night, maybe along with the top song on the second side. Then, it looks to me, that the last song on the first side and the second and third on the back were written about the same time, with the final one after that.

Does that matter? Well, no, not really. The notes were all made sometime in 1987 because there's nothing later. And, it's entirely possible they were all written down the same night, and I just grabbed a pen, not paying any attention to what it was. I've done that before and since.

But I like to imagine it was all written during one night, in one session, because that gives me a look into a (possibly imaginary) moment in my past, a time that's not only long gone, it's also like all the nights and days of that era: Vanished nearly completely.

That's why I'd say that if these lists have one genuine and certain message for me, and maybe others, too, it's this: Record what you can, while you can, because one day you won't remember the small details that currently fill your life every single day and night. Those details may seem trivial and insignificant and banal right now, but they may be so much more decades from now, when you can no longer remember them, or hear them, or feel them, and you can never know if they'll be important to you then if you don't record them now.

Over the past ten years, I've written about what I'm doing, and I've made podcasts and videos, so there are things that three decades from now—if I'm still around—I hope I can turn to and remember these years, and feel them in a way I can't with my life in the 1980s. Sure, I kept a journal off an on from the mid 1970s into the mid 1990s, but they're incomplete, especially about what I was thinking and doing.

This little journey is really just a bit of fun, a bit nostalgic, and maybe even a bit bittersweet. And that's okay. This is just about some pop music I ran across thirty years ago, and liked enough to note what I liked. I already have plenty of blogposts about music I liked over the past ten years, so I'm all set to remember them between 2036 and 2047. That gives me an incentive to stick around!

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